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Ikoria Draft Guide – all Gold cards ranked | Magic: The Gathering

Welcome back to another Ikoria Draft guide for Magic: The Gathering!

Last time, I went over all the cards for black. Today, we will be looking at all the gold cards and I’ll be trying a different format with my draft guides. In previous guides, I simply rated cards and explained my thought process with each one. However, that format felt very lengthy and difficult to read. So instead, I’ve grouped cards into five different tiers. I’ll explain how each tier works below, and will then make notes for some of the cards.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get straight into the ratings.

Ikoria Draft guide – Gold Cards

Tier 1 – Game winners 

Tier 1 usually consists of the mythics and rares of a set. They are bombs that will win you the game, bring you back into the game when your behind, or both. Additionally, these cards can stand on their own feet, and shouldn’t require you to build around them too much. They will inevitably take over the game if left unchecked, and are often hard to deal with.

  • The apex creatures are crazy. Brokkos is extremely hard to get rid of because of the lack of exiting effects in this set, Snapdax can heavily swing the tides of a game in your favor, Illuna is an evasive threat that always guarantees a free permanent if you mutate it, and Nethroi provides you with extreme board presence. These four creatures are extremely powerful and don’t even require you to heavily splash a third color, since they can mutate onto something else using only 2 colors. The only apex creature that didn’t make the cut was Vadrok. Don’t get me wrong, Vadrok is awesome, but I don’t think this card impacts the board as much as the other predators.
  • I had a hard time rating Quartzwood Crasher, but I think it just barely made tier 1. It is just too scary of a threat if it resolves. Being able to attack with this creature once will put your opponent severely behind on board.

In conclusion, I want to pick tier 1 cards whenever I can, and would try to splash them if I’m not already in the colors.

Tier 2 – Very strong cards

Tier 2 mainly consists of rares, but some weaker mythics and stronger uncommon can often make it here. In this group, the cards are still considered bombs but aren’t impossible to overcome. With that said, these cards are very good first picks in a draft and help push you into a specific color. Also, some cards in this tier require some type of build-around, but the payoff is often worth it.

  • Rielle the Everise is a good example of a tier 2 build-around. In a cycling build, she is an extremely efficient value engine and will give you great card advantage. Although her payoff is fantastic, Rielle does drop in rating if you aren’t able to support her.
  • Ruinous Ultimatum is the only ultimatum I rated highly. I’m still hesitant on how consistent you’ll be able to cast this card, however, I think the effect is worth it. You’ll often find yourself top decking in limited, and this is just the type of card that can win you a game.
  • Parcelbeast is most likely the best uncommon in the set. This card doesn’t win the game on its own, but provides enough value to get you to that point before your opponent does. It can get on the board extremely early and is a very efficient blocker.

Tier 3 – Great Cards

These cards are good playables that I’ll always be happy to incorporate into my deck. Tier 3 consists of strong removal spells and high-value creatures. In addition, these cards also include payoffs for being in a specific archetype, but can also be picked outside of their intended archetype because of the value they provide. Finally, I usually wouldn’t want to cut cards in this tier.

  • With Zirda and Umori, I don’t think it is worth it to have them as your companion. Their deckbuilding restrictions feel a little too strict for limited, and the effects attached to each of them won’t be worth it.
  • General’s Enforcer has overperformed in a lot of games. Creating more humans throughout the game is a very impactful ability considering the amount of humans tribal support in Ikoria.
  • I’ve found a lot of success with Zenith Flare, and I think it acts as a great finisher/late-game removal spell for Boros cycling decks.
  • Primal Empathy can be a great value engine or just an average card.

Tier 4 – Average cards

Tier 4 cards are usually fine inclusions if you need them, but nothing to be extremely excited about. These cards aren’t particularly amazing by themselves, but do a good job of filling out the rest of your deck.

  • At first, Regal Leosaur looked promising. However, you usually want to be going with humans in Ikoria, and mutate doesn’t work well with humans
  • Whirlwind of Thought requires some strong build-around if it’s going to be worth including in your deck. However, I could see this moving up to tier 3 in a dedicated Jeskai spells deck.

Tier 5 – Below Average / Unplayable

Last but not least, tier 5 consists of underwhelming options which can easily be replaced by other cards. These cards are here because they are too situational or just don’t do anything to help you win the game. They are usually not worth playing or building around, and you should avoid playing them unless you need to.

  • Unfortunately, the ultimatums in this tier are not worth splashing for. Their effects are lackluster in a limited environment, and consistently being able to pay their mana costs is unrealistic.
  • Titan’s Nest is a card with constructed in mind, and won’t do anything in draft.


A majority of the gold cards in Ikoria are extremely strong, and I think some potential for some interesting 3-color splashing in this set. There is enough fixing in Ikoria to consider a third color, so don’t look off cards just because you’ve committed to 2 colors! Anyways, coming up is the last Ikoria draft guide which will include all the colorless cards!
Stay tuned to SQUAD for more Magic: The Gathering content.
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Paul Dudsdeemaytha

Paul Dudsdeemaytha is a Vancouver, BC-based writer and content creator at SQUAD. Paul specializes in creating guides for Magic: The Gathering and Legends of Runeterra. When he's not writing, you can probably find him throwing frisbees nearby.
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